Tribute to a Great Mentor, Don Kirchoffner

Don Kirchoffner

Don Kirchoffner

Don Kirchoffner (posthumously) is this year’s recipient of the Plank Center’s “Milestones in Mentoring” Legacy Award. This award recognizes those who have touched the lives of countless public relations professionals over the course of their exceptional career. Following a career as a public affairs leader for the U.S. Army, Don’s corporate career included the top PR position at Exelon Corporation before he hung up his own shingle as a consultant and moved from Chicago to Denver.

Don was an accomplished executive known for creating and implementing strategic communications that proactively addressed a broad array of challenges with innovation, foresight and action. Keith Burton, partner with Brunswick Group, says, “Don was a giant in the PR profession. While he was a soldier at heart, he also was a consummate practitioner of our craft.”  

The number of lives Don impacted along his journey is unknown, but Don’s influence continues to live on. Don’s accomplishments exemplify the true meaning of the “Milestones in Mentoring” Legacy Award. Don’s daughter, Megan Kirchoffner Krase, shares her father’s legacy, advice and wisdom through the following Q&A with the Plank Center’s Jessika White: 

Q: Describe your dad’s role as a mentor.

A: I have to believe my dad didn’t start out his career knowing that he’d have such a knack for mentoring others.  But I certainly think this skill came quite gracefully once he realized the impact of his leadership and the effect that this had on others. 

He truly believed that you could do anything you set your mind to and I watched him mentor countless friends, colleagues and complete strangers who aspired to do what we might think is unattainable.  Upon his passing, I received an overwhelming number of emails and notes sharing stories about how my dad had and will continue to have an effect on their lives.  I’ve saved every one of them and I read them often.  One in particular stood out to me.  It was from a friend I had never met whose passion was to be a writer.  He told me that one of the best things my dad taught him was that all work, no matter what kind, is honorable.  That spoke volumes to me the day I read this and I often find that I am preaching those very words to anyone who will listen.

My dad took great pride in his ability and passion to mentor and help others.  One of his greatest accomplishments was to watch others succeed.  He was known to seek out those in need and wanted nothing more than to sharpen their resume, listen to their goals, visions and dreams for the future and send them off with a course of action. 

Q: Who was your dad’s mentor and why?

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